Top 10 2014 Movies
In 2014, we saw some truly great movies come to fruition. These films are not only great movies, but they also prove that cinema can make bold choices and tackle challenging ideas.
The filmmakers who made these films have uninhibited confidence in the power of the image. They knock it about and work over it with an exhilarating and unsettling ferocity.
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the fourth film by American director Wes Anderson, and it has already been called one of his best. It centres on a legendary concierge, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), who begins a close mentor-protege relationship with a young lobby boy.
When Madame D, the 84-year-old dowager with whom Gustave had a long affair, dies mysteriously, he receives a priceless Renaissance painting and is framed for her murder. With the help of Zero Moustafa, a hotel lobby boy, and his love interest Agatha, he deflects the attention of Madame D’s son, Dmitri, and hides the painting from authorities.
In a story in the fictional Eastern European state of Zubrowka, Anderson and production designer Adam Stockhausen pulled references from cities across Eastern Europe for their highly stylised world. Among the film’s iconic scenes are scenes shot in Gorlitz, Germany’s former Gorlitzer Warenhaus department store building that served as the central location for the hotel’s primary sets and production offices.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) who used to play a famous superhero. He struggles with his ego and family as he prepares to mount a Broadway play to reclaim his past glory.
The movie was filmed in New York City and is co-produced by Fox Searchlight and New Regency. It stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, and Andrea Riseborough.
The film is a dark comedy that deals with identity, failure and relevancy issues. It’s also full of violence and bold characters. It’s best suited for adults and the most mature teens. It’s rated R. Parents should watch it with their children to ensure they understand what’s happening.
A fact-based drama, Foxcatcher is directed by Bennett Miller and stars Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, and Vanessa Redgrave. It was initially slated for release last year but was delayed to give Miller more time to finish the project.
The film is based on the true story of Olympic gold medalist wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz and their relationship with eccentric millionaire John du Pont. The story is centred around du Pont’s recruitment of the brothers to help coach U.S. wrestlers for national, world, and Olympic competitions and the murder of Mark’s brother by du Pont in January 1996.
As the brothers are drawn to du Pont’s ferocious training style, he lures them into dangerous habits, ultimately destroying their self-esteem. While the movie opens the possibility of Du Pont’s motive, it’s a definite eye-opener to see how Du Pont can use his money and power to influence athletes in a way detrimental to their well-being.
Argentinian writer and director Damian Szifron’s pitch-black comedy satirizes contemporary society similarly to Milos Forman’s Czech films. Using the format of a portmanteau film, Wild Tales presents six parables about revenge against injustice and power, exposing the vileness and stupidity that plagues the modern world.
The stories range from the comically escalating to the genuinely depressing, but all centre around people who’ve lost control of their lives. Sweet revenge, poetic justice, and plain old sticking it to the man are all on display here, but in a style, unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
A Most Violent Year
A Most Violent Year is a searing crime drama set in New York City during the winter of 1981. Statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history, this gripping story plays out within a maze of rampant political and industry corruption plaguing the streets of a decaying city.
The film follows Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), an ambitious immigrant trying to run a legitimate heating oil business in New York while avoiding the evil nature of his trade. He must fight to protect his family and business, despite the constant disruptions caused by violence and corruption.
The film adroitly breaks the mafia genre, diluting its cornier characteristics while still using its themes to critique it from a realistic perspective. A Most Violent Year is a must-see with a cast of great actors and an engaging script.
A fascinating portrayal of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Selma is a blast of piercing social insight and a call to action that resonates with us today.
Director Ava DuVernay, unpardonably robbed of a Best Director Oscar for this film, keeps the tone on the grim side and denies easy gratification in her portrayal of history. But her nuanced script and a solid performance from David Oyelowo make this one of the most satisfying films of 2014.
Based on actual events, this historical drama centers on a dangerous, bloody campaign for voting rights. It culminates with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, that ultimately led President Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Inspired by Michael Punke’s novel about a frontiersman left for dead in the American wilderness, The Revenant is a sweeping story of survival. Directed by Alejandro Inarritu, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a grizzly bear hunter attacked by a mother grizzly and abandoned by his hunting team.
It’s a tense and powerful film nominated for 12 Oscars, including best director for Inarritu and best actor for DiCaprio. But veteran crew members who have toiled on the film say it has been their worst experience — “a living hell,” as one says bluntly.
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But there’s no denying that Inarritu and director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki have created an incredibly compelling and moving tale. This is the filmmaker’s first feature since Birdman in 2014, and it has the potential to be an Oscar-worthy movie that will leave you with a lasting impression.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Following her rescue from the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) arrives in District 13, where she becomes a symbol of rebellion against President Snow’s totalitarian regime. But her narrow focus on Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) destroys her.
Francis Lawrence directs the film and features a cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland.
The third installment of the Hunger Games series follows Katniss on a mission to liberate war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow. It is based on the 2010 novel Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. The film was released on November 21, 2014. It has received critical acclaim and has been a blockbuster success. It has earned over $2 billion worldwide. It was the second highest-grossing entry in the Hunger Games franchise.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
One of the most celebrated arcs in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, brings the characters from the original trilogy along for the ride as they travel back to 1973. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Patrick Stewart return for the adventure.
Despite their beliefs, the X-Men must fight for the cause of love and tolerance against those who believe mutants are the enemy. They also battle Magneto, who believes mutants are destined to rule the world.
The X-Men face ideological battles in this film that are at the heart of the Marvel comics. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) teaches tolerance, while Magneto (Ian McKellen) preaches survival of the fittest. These two ideologies conflict and often lead to violence in the X-Men films.
Manakamana is the latest in a series of lauded experimental films from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, responsible for Sweetgrass and Leviathan. In uncut 10-minute rolls of 16mm, this film documents the journeys of a group of pilgrims to a temple in central Nepal.
The film begins with an older man and a child silently riding the cable car as it makes its way up the mountain ridge. After a brief black screen, the camera reemerges, capturing a different group of riders heading in the opposite direction.
Throughout the film, Spray and Velez capture groups of visitors from all walks of life who ride in the cable car on their way to the Manakamana temple to make wishes come true at the cost of sacrificing animals. They capture men, women, children, and teenagers with various expressions as they chat, take selfies, play instruments, or indulge in ice cream.
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